Friday, December 31, 2010
If you want to read more on the events surrounding the situation, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did run a story about it at the time. You can also read this 2005 blog item by Xoff which fills in even more of the details (notice the appropriate title).
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Not only is Walker attempting a power-grab from other lawfully elected officials but he has now announced plans to eliminate the Department of Commerce (especially those pesky regulatory duties) and replace it with something that could become more of an incubator for corruption than for real commerce.
There is still much to learn about Walker's plans to replace the Department of Commerce but what we do know is that he wants to semi-privatize this taxpayer financed entity. He also wants to appoint a board of which he (surprise!) is the chairman. Who will be on the board and how will they be chosen? As chairman of this board does Walker have the ultimate authority? Are there going to be any substantive systems in place to prevent total corruption of this body (and I'm talking about something more than just Walker's own word)? Who will be empowered to monitor such things and exactly how will they do it?
I fully expect the new Republican-controlled legislature to forfeit their own power to Walker and simply serve as rubber stamp on any issue of consequence. So who will be left to ask for the important details that are involved in such radical changes? Will the public be able to rely on the corporate media to ask the hard questions? Even if the usual suspects do ask the important questions will it come before Walker's plans are fully in place or will they only bemoan things after the fact?
If Scott Walker's time as Milwaukee County executive shows us anything it is that he has a propensity for appointing political friends and cronies to positions of public authority. All too often possible conflicts, bad appearances or even simple competence don't seem to matter much to him. So will he continue this practice by extending it to his cronies and campaign contributors among the business elite? We will soon find out the ultimate answers to these and other questions. Only then will we find out if the Wisconsin Department of Commerce is being replaced by the Wisconsin Department of Crony Capitalism.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
It has been reported that Walker's proposal would cover all state agencies, including the departments of Justice and Public Instruction, even though those are led by constitutional officers separately elected by voters. Today Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers openly questioned this specific part of Walker's power grab.
Now I'm waiting for Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to render his opinion on Walker's unprecedented power grab. Will Van Hollen fall into line behind a newly elected governor from his own political party or will he stand firmly on a reasoning based on the law? Will Van Hollen so easily cede his own power to Walker or will he honor the will of the voters that (to my chagrin)twice elected him to be the head of the Department of Justice?
Superintendent Tony Evers has already expressed his concern over the Walker power grab, when will we hear from J.B. Van Hollen on this issue?
ht: Political Environment for the above image
UPDATE: Now check out Rep. Gary Hebl's myth-busting of Walker's rules proposal
Friday, December 17, 2010
The best example of the business elite using Walker's "haves and have-nots" approach comes from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC). Originally MMAC encouraged Talgo to locate in Milwaukee and even attended a welcoming press conference for them. But when it was most important and when businesses and jobs were on the line, MMAC stood mute as Scott Walker killed high speed rail and all of the commerce, development and jobs that went with it.
However, this lack of real representation by MMAC gets even worse and goes beyond one individual company. As James Rowen revealed on his blog, MMAC members were evenly split on the issue of high speed rail in Wisconsin. In an act that seems to verify their timidity, MMAC didn't release the results until well after they were largely irrelevant.
A full 214 MMAC members (50%) that answered their survey said that they supported the high speed rail project. Some of the supportive comments that came with the survey sound as if they could have been taken directly from the most fervent high speed rail supporters. But MMAC chose to ignore half of their own membership. In addition a combined 54% of their surveyed members considered the high speed rail issue "important", "very important" and "critically important". But MMAC still stood mute on the subject as the opportunity eventually died.
This entire episode makes me wonder if MMAC has adopted a "haves and have-nots" priority list not just in general but even within its own membership? Based on the information that is public, this sure seems to be the case. I further wonder if the MMAC members that are internal "have-nots" feel that they are getting their money's worth? Why would they waste precious resources simply to be ignored when it matters most?
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
All of the questions that I would have for Stone are related and they are based on a series of events in 2005 and 2006. During that time Jeff Stone trotted out the horrible idea of taking away Milwaukee County's successfully-run airport and handing it over to some newly created regional layer of government. Stone then attempted an end-run around Milwaukee County entirely by proposing legislation in Madison. That Stone effort was to enact the plan without so much as a vote from either the Milwaukee County Board or from the public (via referendum).
Later it was learned that the horrible plan was actually conceived by special interests and the business elites. That included both the Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC) and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC). In fact the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found that the actual draft legislation that Stone was pushing was literally written in secret by some of those special interests and their lawyers.
So is this the way that he intends to lead Milwaukee County? Can we expect these special interests to literally write his county budgets and his legislative proposals as well? Does he still think it is a good idea to give away Milwaukee County's most valuable assets without even a vote from the board or from Milwaukee County taxpayers themselves? I would certainly be interested in knowing his answers and I really do hope that a member of the media plans to ask him. Answers will let us know if Jeff Stone still plans to sell out Milwaukee County to his special interest friends.
Monday, December 13, 2010
I was as outraged as anyone after the November election but I’ve tried to channel that outrage into something productive rather than simply finding someone to blame. Frankly it was a national wave election and many of the normal rules simply don’t apply. I don’t think it is particularly useful or fair to judge ultimate performance based only on electoral wins and losses in such an unusual cycle. I personally believe that these circumstances especially require a more substantive look at the track record.
Here are just a handful of the facts that I simply can't ignore:
Democrats certainly have experienced a painful election this year but everything does not begin and end with this one election cycle. It is also very important to remember that there is a big picture to take into consideration. It is with that big picture in mind and because of the above listed successes, that I once again support Mike Tate to continue as the chairman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
Friday, December 10, 2010
There are those that have been reported more broadly in the media:
Talgo its employees and all of its local suppliers.
Edward Kraemer & Sons Inc
Major Developers like Grunau
Then there is this partial list as was reported on Wisconsin's recovery website:
Aerocon Photogrammetric Services, Inc
Aon Risk Services Inc of WI
Ayres Associates Inc
Continental Mapping Consultant
Daar Engineering Inc
Insight Public Sector
Natural Resources Consulting
Patrick Engineering, Inc
Teng & Associates Inc
Transmart Technologies Inc
Then finally there are those that are not listed on the recovery site but were notified in the November 4th "stop work" email from the state DOT:
Kapur & Associates
Wisconsin & Southern Railroad
Canadian Pacific Railway
DAAR Engineering, Inc
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Maybe some assume that this was just a badly worded press release but those words were certainly backed up quickly with his immediate actions. On Wednesday he sent out the partisan press release and on Thursday he promptly met with the Wisconsin Federation of Republican Women. I wonder if Prosser took the opportunity to further explain his comments to the already partisan crowd? I sure hope that there was a reporter at the event, or at least one that will ask for a copy or for a recording of his speech. I think that we deserve to know exactly how partisan our justices plan to be on the bench.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Frankly, the examples of Walker's short-term self-centered approach to policy seem endless. One example that crystallizes this point for me can be found in a 2002 email discussion about Walker, the county grounds and flood control efforts in Wauwatosa.
At that time Walker had just come into office and it was clear that blind ideology and the next election were the most important things to both Walker and his cronies. After some very serious flooding issues in Wauwatosa in the late 1990's MMSD, local businesses, the community and the county worked hard on a solution to prevent a repeat. That solution included putting detention basins at strategic points on the nearby county grounds. Shortly after Walker came in he and his cronies clearly tried to at least slow the process if not kill it altogether.
This and other discussions at the time make it clear that Walker and company were constantly obstructing the hard work of others involved in this important project. But the part of the email that stands out the most to me is the following observation:
"Dennik and Walker have also stressed to Luigi that they don't
want any bulldozers on the County Grounds project until after the 2004
My translation: Although preventing flood risk was a critical issue for the community, the only thing that really mattered to Walker was the next election.
(There are other telling observations in the email so I am providing the full text of it here.)
Monday, December 06, 2010
Now we have news that Reince Priebus has officially announced his plan to challenge Michael Steele as RNC chair. Because nothing defines the word "unity" like a stab in the back from a friend.
UPDATE: The above referenced email just got a shout out on Politico.
Friday, December 03, 2010
Wisconsin faces an approximate $2.2 - $3.3 billion deficit (depending on which numbers you accept). Walker's role model Texas Governor Rick Perry is presiding over a budget deficit of $25 billion. To his credit, Walker certainly intends to drive up Wisconsin's deficit with irresponsible tax cuts for the rich and his big corporate boosters.
When conservatives bring up tort reform it is often in the context of health care. They usually recite the same talking points about malpractice lawsuits and that they are allegedly chasing doctors out of the state. According to U.S. Census figures Wisconsin has 259.1 doctors per 100,000 residents (ranked 22). Texas has 214.2 and is ranked at 41 in the nation. Look out Gov. Perry, here we come!
Walker claims that the drastic cuts t0 come, will spare public safety (even though he didn't practice that as county executive). But after he cuts or eliminates shared revenue to local governments, you can bet that public safety funding will in fact suffer. The "good news" for Walker is that it just might help us catch up to the Texas violent crime rate. U.S. Census figures show that Wisconsin has 291 violent crimes per 100,000 residents (ranked 34) while Texas has 511 and is ranked 14.
We already know that Scott Walker is no fan of social programs and they are not a priority for him. So perhaps this is another area where we can catch up to Texas' "boot strap" approach to poverty. U.S. Census figures show that Wisconsin has 10.4% of its population living below the poverty level (ranked 38). Texas on the other hand has 15.8% of its population living below the poverty level (ranked 8).
The home ownership rate in Wisconsin is about 70.4% (ranked 26) based Census data. Texas stands at 65.5% (ranked 45th in the nation). While we are talking about housing, lets talk about mobile homes being a percentage of total housing units. Texas ranks 22nd with 7.4% and Wisconsin ranks 40th with 3.8%.
We already know that we can brace for severe Walker cuts in things like Badgercare. Perhaps that kind of heartless approach can also move us closer to Walker's "lone star vision" for Wisconsin. The percentage of children 17 years and below that don't have health insurance in Texas is 19% while in Wisconsin it is 5% (this is only through 2008, so because of the efforts of Governor Doyle in this area, that Wisconsin rate is likely much smaller now).
We also know that education funding will be on the chopping block next year, so what can we "look forward" to in that department? A new national report on education recently came out and listed Wisconsin as having nearly a 90% graduation rate in 2008. That same report shows Texas with only a 73.1% graduation rate (which is below the national average of 74.9%).
UPDATE: A new report was released on the U.S. cities with the most/least "brainpower". Madison made the top ten (out of 200) while three of the bottom ten were from guess where? I'm just saying...
Thursday, December 02, 2010
When reports surfaced that Pratt was escorting Walker to Milwaukee churches, people assumed that it might help Walker make a dent in the African American vote. Those early assumptions clearly underestimated the savvy of the actual voters. Not only did Mayor Barrett command Milwaukee County (62% to 38%) but his strongest 47 wards statewide were in Milwaukee's African American majority neighborhoods. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert reported today that Scott Walker had almost "zero support" in these wards. Here are some of the details that he provides:
In city ward 175, Barrett got 244 votes and Walker got one. In city ward 99, Barrett got 478 votes and Walker got two. Barrett got more than 99% of the vote in four Milwaukee wards, and 97% or more in 33 wards.The bottom line is that voters in communities like mine were not fooled. They were all too familiar with Scott Walker's miserable record in Milwaukee County in general and for the African American community in particular (county layoffs of largely AA workers, mismanaged assistance programs, the destruction of public transit, repeatedly trying to close the MLK Community Center...etc). Marvin Pratt running around with Walker to local churches clearly did not change that reality. In fact Mayor Barrett's margins in many of these wards couldn't have numerically been much higher. It looks like Marvin Pratt's last second bitterness tour ended up being more of an epic FAIL.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Today I discovered yet another interesting video. This one was included in a story by the Daily Reporter. The video is from the March press conference announcing that trainmaker Talgo was planning on locating its manufacturing plant in Milwaukee. According to the video and to the accompanying Daily Reporter story, several officals were at the press conference. The report says that "One of the welcoming speakers on that cold day in March was Tim Sheehy, the president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce".
Talgo has been rightfully asking where the support of these Milwaukee-area business elites are now? It is a very good question, that I have been asking for weeks. Apparently Tim Sheehy was more than happy to represent MMAC at the March press conference but now reporters can't even get him to successfully navigate a phone long enough to talk about Talgo.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Milwaukee(for now)train manufacturer Talgo asked MMAC to get off the sidelines on the high speed rail issue. Talgo is asking MMAC to take an actual position on the jobs and development that the project was already bringing to the area (not to mention the potential). It is good to see at least one business taking a stand for itself. They have been left with no choice as groups like MMAC have ignored their own stated goals and mission statements.
The only thing that I can take away from this entire episode is that just being a Wisconsin business is simply not enough. Heck, it apparently isn't even enough if you are a member of a large business group. When it is most important and your business hangs in the balance, apparently groups like MMAC operate purly from a "haves and have-nots" list for Wisconsin business. I guess I shouldn't be so surprised given the fact that MMAC funneled nearly $400,000 to benefit Scott Walker's campaign. He also operates from a very similar list. He says that Wisconsin is "open for business" but apparently not if you are a train manufacturer, an engineering & design firm, an interested developer, or an area supplier.
Other Wisconsin businesses should take note. Are you on the "haves" or the "have-nots" list in Wisconsin? If you even remotely think that it could be the latter, then you might as well prepare to fight for and represent yourself.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
After reading about the MMAC and other business elites shrugging off the high speed rail project, I was a little surprised to hear some of the comments on the video posted below. It is about the importance of public transit to business. Here are some of the comments that I thought were particularly relevant:
- First the President and CEO of Bucyrus International, Tim Sullivan spoke in the video. It should be noted that he is also the chairman of MMAC. He starts by saying how important transit and transit legislation is to business. He goes on to explain that a key problem that Bucyrus has faced has been an inadequate transit system. He also comments that most of his growing workforce is unable to take public transit because there isn't reliable service near Bucyrus. Later in the video he describes reliable transit as an "absolute need" for the business community.
- Julia Taylor, President of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, describes how public transit can be an important consideration for businesses when they decide whether they will locate here (maybe Talgo could be an example of this?). She goes on to confirm that transit currently is a "major frustration" for the business community in Milwaukee.
- Ed Zore is the CEO and President of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance. It should also be noted that he is also on the board of MMAC. In his comments he very bluntly complains about the "constant deterioration of public transit". Specifically he says that this is happening because the "fare goes up" and "the service is cut" and "at some point there is a limit to this" and then we wont have public transit.
First, I have to say that I don't disagree with anything that the above listed speakers said in the video. However, I must admit to being a little surprised to hear them so passionately support a strong and reliable public transit system. I say that because I have not noticed a single one of them taking the lead or being a voice on the high speed rail project. As far as I know they have not done this as individuals, as business leaders or as board members of MMAC and/or GMC.
I guess I'm left wondering where this kind of advocacy and passion for transportation is now? When a voice from the Milwaukee business establishment is needed most on transit, why are they so silent? These business leaders stepped up for our transportation system in this video, why can't they follow their counterparts in Madison and Watertown and do it again now?
Friday, November 12, 2010
On day six (Wednesday) they finally emerged from their increasingly isolated bunker to say that the high speed rail project really isn't that big of deal to them. And apparently new Milwaukee manufacturer Talgo is not that big of deal to them either. Likewise, MMAC is not very concerned about Talgo's area suppliers, the hundreds of current and future Talgo jobs, or the critical development of the former Tower Automotive site. This is not to even mention the 300 (non-Talgo) layoffs that have already occurred because of the stalled high speed rail project.
While I'm listing off the things that aren't such a big deal to MMAC, I certainly have to mention the City of Milwaukee. The city has been a very active partner with MMAC and area businesses in the areas of creating jobs and economic development (unlike the County). But by virtue of their "who cares" attitude on high speed rail, they are also proving themselves to be a lousy partners for the City of Milwaukee in the future. What kind of real partner is willing to so casually dismiss multi-millions of dollars in city investments in the high speed rail project? Those dollars include investing in the expansion of the Milwaukee Intermodel Station and in the aggressive efforts to successfully woo Talgo to Milwaukee. If I were a City of Milwaukee official, I would certainly have to think long and hard about whether I can afford to team-up with people that have such little regard for city interests/investments.
So what is the real reason that MMAC has taken a total pass on the high speed rail project and the jobs/commerce connected directly to it? Are these big powerful business elites simply fearful of an unchecked power-crazed governor-elect? I seriously doubt that since they very directly helped put him there (see their funnelling $400k in anonymous donations). No, it looks more and more like this recent election has finally inspired them to come-out of their partisan closet once and for all. Sadly it has also caused them to take a pass on manufacturing, commerce, jobs, development and progress in Milwaukee.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
There are quite a few things that MMAC could learn from several other business groups that are actually defending the interests of their members. Here are just two examples:
Downtown Madison, Inc. represents over 500 member businesses and they are taking a strong stand for jobs, development and commerce. They sent a letter to Scott Walker laying out the very sound business reasons to keep these jobs and continue with this federal investment in Wisconsin. Not only have they sent this letter but they have taken their stand for jobs publicly.
The Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce also sent a letter to Walker expressing their strong support for the rail-based jobs and development project. In their letter they state that a full 85% of their members support high speed rail and the planned depot in Watertown. They lay out yet another great case for the project. Among other strong points they comment that "scrapping the high-speed rail project would be an extremely poor decision and stymie economic development in Watertown and the surrounding area."
Since I last blogged on MMAC being MIA on this important issue, some have suggested that they are losing their influence. Others have suggested they are too scared of their own shadow to defend the interests of their own members. Still others point to their increasing partisanship via the channelling of $400,000 to benefit the campaign of Scott Walker. Whatever the real reason, their silence on such a critical issue is deafening. Who will take a stand for Milwaukee business interests, jobs and development? Because MMAC seems content with being M.I.A. when it matters the most.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
In addition to these costs the Wisconsin Department of Transportation factsheet lists $32.9 million in already executed contracts related to the Madison and Watertown station agreements. So at the very least Walker's blind ideology will cost the state $100 million. I'm calling it "Walker's $100 million boondoggle".
Walker's phony reason for opposing rail is that he doesn't want the state to commit to long term operational costs for the project. As is his practice, Walker uses an overinflated number for those costs saying that they would come in at $7.5 million a year. Others have more reasonably projected those costs at closer to $750,000 due to ongoing federal aid. So this brings us to an interesting point that Blogging Blue has already made. Walker says that the cost of operations are his reason for being against the project but the $100 million that he is putting us on the hook for pays for 133 years of those payments. Even if we use Walker's inaccurate and overly inflated number the $100 million that he is forcing us to spend pays for over 13 years of operational costs.
The new data from DOT not only shows us that Walker is prepared to charge taxpayers $100 million for getting next to nothing, but that he is also purposefully killing thousands of jobs in the process. Here is the breakdown of those jobs (which does not include the hundreds of permanent Talgo jobs that are now at risk):
It is clear that Scott Walker is determined to force taxpayers to pay $100 million for next to nothing, to cost us hundreds of current jobs/thousands of potential jobs, and to make Wisconsin an island in an otherwise increasingly connected Midwest.
Monday, November 08, 2010
I'm specifically talking about MMAC's silence on the killing of the high speed rail project in Wisconsin. Because of the dogmatic and often irrational opposition to the project by Scott Walker, the project was officially put on hold last week. There have already been reports of up to 300 current workers being laid off as a result with hundreds more hanging in the balance. This is not to mention the thousands of potential jobs that are directly tied to this project. Then Talgo's comments that Walker's killing the project could possibly cost Milwaukee their new plant, the hundreds of jobs that go with it and the needed development of the former Tower Automotive site. I don't know this but I'd have to imagine that Talgo and some of the other affected businesses are members of MMAC. Exactly where has been the MMAC "advocacy" for those "member businesses" on this issue?
Perhaps MMAC is working the internal channel to Walker that they carved out by funneling $400,000 to benefit his campaign for governor. However, given their absolute silence on these recent and unfortunate developments, we don't know if they are actually doing anything to save these businesses and the jobs and development that go with them. There is a quickly closing window of opportunity for MMAC to make a difference in this situation. The question is will they take advantage of it or will they continue to be missing in action? Their actions in the coming days will say a lot about their real values. Are they really living up to their mission or are they simply becoming the latest Republican club for the business elite?
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Walker obviously isn't governor yet but make no mistake about it, if it wasn't for him, there are thousands of high speed rail jobs that wouldn't be in jeopardy right now. And as WISC-TV reported earlier this week, there are 300 current private sector workers that have already been laid off as a result. They are real people losing their real jobs as designers, engineers and consultants. I'm also sure that they have real families to support. They can thank Scott Walker, because if it weren't for him there is no doubt that they would still be working today.
Walker's laying off of private sector workers will not stop here. If he is successful in killing high speed rail, he will also kill the current and future private sector jobs at Talgo in Milwaukee. That is just the beginning because there are thousands of other private sector jobs that will never even see the light of day.
Who would have thought that Scott Walker's first layoffs would happen to private sector workers?
Friday, November 05, 2010
Thursday, November 04, 2010
The City of Milwaukee worked very hard to successfully compete with other cities and it won the Talgo factory, the development and the jobs that came with it. However we are learning today that Talgo may cancel those plans if the high speed rail project is killed in Wisconsin. This brings a terrible impact to Wisconsin's largest city in several ways:
- Milwaukee loses the permanent jobs at the Talgo facility.
- Milwaukee could lose its $3 million investment to win the business.
- Milwaukee could lose the job-creating economic development that was tied to the project at the former Tower Automotive site (which is in an area of high unemployment).
It has been very clear that Scott Walker has simply not shown one ounce of real concern about jobs and economic development in Milwaukee County. He failed to create one real job for all of his eight years as county executive and he even eliminated his economic development office in the middle of the recession. He also has been totally AWOL on developing the county's valuable Park East land. But he did make endless campaign season promises about creating jobs if he were elected governor. Will he break them just like he has broken so many promises as county executive? It sure seems that way. How do you keep your jobs promises by seeking to kill so many of them before you even walk in the door?
If Scott Walker kills the high speed rail project then at the very least the state should be prepared to make the City of Milwaukee whole. They should reimburse it for its $3 million investment, have a real plan to quickly replace the lost Talgo jobs and put together a special package to redevelop the Tower Automotive site. Anything less would be negligent and would lead to yet another broken promise from Scott Walker on what he said was his top issue.
If Scott Walker needs some convincing to make Milwaukee whole, then maybe the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) should "man up" and call on him to do so. Don't they have an opinion on the loss of the Talgo deal and the planned development of the former Tower Automotive site? They should hold some sway with Walker since they willingly funneled nearly $400,000 to him via the Republican Governor's Association. Maybe they can tell Walker that creating jobs in Wisconsin shouldn't start with killing them in Milwaukee.
UPDATE: The Governor-elect of New York is already saying that he would like the federal high speed rail funds if they are abandoned by Wisconsin and Ohio.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
OK we are all rightfully outraged but now what? I think that the only acceptable solution is to start channeling this outrage into strategic and aggressive action. There are certainly behind-the-scenes and less predictable actions that can take place long before any of this extreme bunch ever takes the oath of office. Then after taking office they will provide us with a plethora of opportunities. If recent history teaches us anything, we already know that this crowd is incapable of effectively governing (at least if they actually keep all of the fanciful campaign season promises that they have made). Scott Walker no longer can pass the buck. He will have a Republican majority in the legislature and no Milwaukee County Board to blame. Republicans both in Wisconsin and nationally are bound to overreach very early and we should be prepared to take advantage of it.
Channel your outrage now to prepare for effective action later.
Monday, November 01, 2010
1. What was the average monthly private sector job growth in 2008, the final year of the Bush presidency, and what has it been so far in 2010?
2. What was the Federal deficit for the last fiscal year of the Bush presidency, and what was it for the first full fiscal year of the Obama presidency?
3. What was the stock market at on the last day of the Bush presidency? What is it at today?
4. Which party's candidate for speaker campaigned this weekend with a Nazi reenactor who dressed up in a SS uniform?
1. In 2008, we lost an average of 317,250 private sector jobs per month. In 2010, we have gained an average of 95,888 private sector jobs per month. (Source) That's a difference of nearly five million jobs between Bush's last year in office and President Obama's second year.
2. In FY2009, which began on September 1, 2008 and represents the Bush Administration's final budget, the budget deficit was $1.416 trillion. In FY2010, the first budget of the Obama Administration, the budget deficit was $1.291 trillion, a decline of $125 billion. (Source) Yes, that means President Obama has cut the deficit -- there's a long way to go, but we're in better shape now than we were under Bush and the GOP.
3. On Bush's final day in office, the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 closed at 7,949, 1,440, and 805, respectively. Today, as of 10:15AM Pacific, they are at 11,108, 2,512, and 1,183. That means since President Obama took office, the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 have increased 40%, 74%, and 47%, respectively.
4. The Republican Party, whose candidate for speaker, John Boehner, campaigned with Nazi re-enactor Rich Iott this weekend. If you need an explanation why this is offensive, you are a lost cause.
Even if you don't want to be bothered with the actual facts, the choice is still clear if you simply have a memory:
Friday, October 29, 2010
Based on some of the following Leah Vukmir official emails, I would certainly have to concur with some of those sentiments (of her fellow Republicans). *Note-all emphasis is mine but all inappropriately placed smilie faces belong to Vukmir.
When her fellow legislators were asking for signatures on a letter seeking to save the Chrysler Kenosha plant, Vukmir had an "interesting" response. She forwarded the emailed appeal to her apparent BFF, right wing talker Vicki McKenna. The real disturbing part was not that she forwarded the email but what she said when doing it. She said, and I quote, ":-)". Because we all know how funny it is for plants to close in Wisconsin and for working people to lose jobs. [Vukmir email, 5/5/09]
In one long email thread a few cheap shots at MMSD were taken. One of the people involved in the conversation clearly didn't get the point of the cheap shot so Leah offered an explanation, followed by the ever sensitive comment, "...it's government-run water containment. Ask New Orleans how this works out. :-)" Oh my, I can barely stop laughing! [Vukmir email, 8/14/08]
Apparently Leah Vukmir isn't concerned about the oft-mentioned "brain drain" in Wisconsin. Her office received an email from a progressive organization asking for help in sending progressive youth to Washington DC for a conference. She forwards the email to one of her staffers commenting, "Yes. Lets send them to Washington - but they have to promise that they will never come back." [Vukmir email, 4/16/09]
A person (name was redacted by Vukmir staff) sent an email to Vukmir and right wing loudmouth Mark Belling. The subject of the email read, (annoying caps are not mine) "HOW ABOUT OUR REP LEAH VUKMIR V RUSS (I AM ARROGANT) FEINGOLD-SMARTASS???" Vukmir responds saying, "We can only slay one senator at a time (redacted name). I thought about it, before running for state senate." Not only does the over-the-top rhetoric speak for itself, but I wonder how close Vukmir came to the line here? Should she be talking about her political plans and state senate campaign on her official state email account? [Vukmir email, 1/21/10]
Then there is Vukmir's exchange with epic gay-hater Julaine Appling regarding the bullying legislation that she dutifully voted against. Why? The best that I can tell from the email is because a gay org might have had some input in trying to protect our kids from bullying at school. Oh my god, better vote against it! [Vukmir email, 1/13/10]
Then there is the intelligent email from (name redacted) with the following subject line, "Thanks Cong Pence et al for fighting against fascists under our national dome that used to stand for liberty and the pursuit of the American Dream-All of that has been replaced by numb nuts who want solutions via the Tire Pressure Gauge-Led by Captain Planet Gore and Mrs Save The World From Meanie America-Our Lib Marxist Queen-Pelosi//Tear Down The Medias Iron Curtain and learn from Reagan, Friedmann, Alexander Sol.." Vukmir responds to the nut by apparently trying to reaffirm their thinking saying, "They are fighting the good fight...and I am glad they are!!" [Vukmir email, 8/5/08]
Finally, Vukmir takes a moment to let us know what she really thinks of Social Security. In an email to (name redacted) she comments, "...do you know who the geniuses were that developed the benefit structure for the auto industry? They were the same wiz kids who gave us social security." [Vukmir email, 6/6/09]
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
State records show that Ron Johnson has been using prison labor at the family company since 1998. He has been doing this even as the unemployment rate in Oshkosh has nearly doubled. So maybe WPRI and Sykes should ask Ron Johnson why he is still employing felons, some with violent histories, instead of working families in Oshkosh?
They have not and will not ask Johnson that question but I have a few ideas about the real answer. I suspect that it just might be because Johnson is able to offload health care costs to the state while still having people do the work for him. Again, it seems like this is yet another example of Johnson's double-talk on "small government". It apparently should be small unless it is helping his own bottom line. The AP has reported that the prison labor is saving Ron Johnson about $10,000 per employee per year. Rather than call out the hypocrisy WPRI and Sykes prefer instead to join in with a bit of their own, by remaining suddenly silent.
WPRI, Sykes and the rest of the right-wing brigade continually attack Governor Doyle for the "earned release" program. Usually they go about chronicling the name and criminal record of dozens of people who have (and have not) qualified for the program. So why aren't they raising even a whisper about the inmates — who are still serving time —who are allowed to get out to work in Ron Johnson's factory? While on work release, these people are monitored by the company, but not always by corrections employees. And some of them have serious charges for which they have been found guilty. Consider this listing of offenses by those that work for Johnson:
Where is the right-wing fear mongering about these individuals? Where is their feigned outrage over the program itself? Apparently WPRI and Sykes have no problem with the situation because them being consistent would hurt Ron Johnson. Not only would it hurt his campaign but it would hurt his pocket book. That kind of right-wing hypocrisy is breathtaking, in fact you might even say that it is almost "criminal".
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Regarding the MHC the audit shows that violence has rapidly increased over the last five years. It's not really a surprise when you consider that Scott Walker has had a longtime policy of cutting staff. In 2001 there were 1,053.1 funded position equivalents. In 2008 that number went down to 890.9 and in his 2010 proposed budget he wanted to put it all the way down to 746.7. In addition, in 2008 there were 113 positions at BHD that were fully funded but not filled. Considering all of the tragedies happening on his watch, no wonder Scott Walker is stonewalling nearly everyone that wants to get to the bottom of the problem.
Regarding the widespread problems with building maintenance/inspections, the audit found that "Milwaukee County has taken a haphazard approach to building inspection, with no formal policy and inconsistent follow-up." Again, it is the policy stupid! Consider the following:
You can see this same failed Walker formula in his ($200 million) deferred maintenance approach to parks, and his overtime (218% increase) approach to the House of Corrections. How much mismanagement and short-term policy do we have to see before we collectively come to terms with reality? Here is that reality check: Scott Walker will do and say anything to promote his own political career, even if that means a much higher long-term cost for the rest of us.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
In their endorsement they say that Walker's "experience in running Milwaukee County has given him the right skill set". Who knew that the following qualified as "running" and who knew that it involved any level of "skill" at all? As a public service to future candidates for public office, we would like to provide the apparent criteria necessary to get the endorsement and endless promotion of Journal Communications:
- Bring it to Bankruptcy
- Constant mental health crisis, (deaths, escapes, threatened funding, shotty conditions)
- No economic development/jobs effort (other than for political cronies)
- Transit crisis: less service but ever increasing prices, cutting off more people from jobs
- Buildings literally crumbling
- Hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred parks maintenance
- Being fined/successfully sued for poor performance and then losing control of welfare programs altogether
- Losing control of the House of Correction after a damning federal audit, short staffing, 218% increase in overtime, an escape and a overdose death
- Raiding sales tax revenue which was supposed to be for things like roads, while owning "the worst road in the state of Wisconsin".
- Building phantom budgets based on assumed revenue that has no basis in reality
- Complain about government spending and debt when you actually lead the way in both categories (35% and 85% increases)
- Constant sniping on the sidelines and having a generally nasty attitude toward the constructive efforts of everyone else
- Never actually reforming the thing that got you elected in the first place - pension system, (still massive backdrop payments, workers still don't contribute eight years later)
- Multiple long-time staffers investigated by the District Attorney's office
- Awarding multiple no-bid contracts to politically connected companies that have given to your campaign
- Privatize everything, even if it costs more for less
- Short-term politically motivated approach to everything, no matter the long-term costs to taxpayers
- Break most of your original promises but continuously parrot that you've kept them.
- Whenever possible flip-flop on key issues, and then flip-flop again (be on all side of nearly every issue)
It seems that what Journal Communications really meant to say is that Scott Walker's "experience in ruining Milwaukee County has given him the right skill set to receive our inevitable endorsement".
Friday, October 22, 2010
We all know about Walker's long standing mismanagement of Milwaukee County's Mental Health Complex (MHC), but recent reports show us that this social services crisis is quickly turning into a public safety problem. WISN News did two stories recently on two different families that are unfortunately being forced to deal with this mismanagement directly.
One family consists of the father and aunt of the women that was repeatedly sexually assaulted at the MHC. Twice this year that same victim was allowed to simply walk away from the long-term facility. The first time she was found walking amongst dangerous traffic. Less than a month ago, after again walking away from the facility, she was found forcing her way into a local family's home and getting into a physical altercation with the unsuspecting mother of the house. Now, as WISN reported earlier this week, that mother and her husband are calling on Scott Walker to release a security report on the facility that he has so far tried to hide from the public.
This is only the most recent example of Scott Walker's public safety failures. This past summer I highlighted some of the others including the following:
•Walker's disastrous policies at the Mental Health Complex have also generated problems for local municipalities and their police departments.
•In the 2002 Budget there were 1,125.3 funded position equivalents for the Sheriff. In the 2009 budget that number was down to 952.9 (Walker’s recommended budget would have brought it down to 946.0)
•In the 2002 Budget there were 638.1 funded position equivalents at the House of Correction. In the 2009 budget that number was down to 486.0 (Walker’s recommended budget would have brought it down to 482.0). It should be no surprise that while Walker was in charge the overtime surged to record levels and there were even escapes from the facility.
•Even Walker's political ally Sheriff David Clarke described Walker's budget as a "patchwork" and promised that he would have to release 120 inmates and reduce freeway patrols.
•Then there was Walker's privatization scheme which brought this guy to supervise security at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
On the stump Walker has attacked the idea of raiding the state's transportation fund to fill budgetary holes. Earlier this week he made the same kinds of comments at the annual meeting of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin. As usual with Scott Walker, there is another side (consisting of his actual record) to this story.
Scott Walker's history as Milwaukee County Executive shows that he is most definitely willing to raid transportation funds to fill the endless holes in his budgets. Milwaukee County's sales tax revenue was supposed to only be used to pay debt or to fund capital projects such as road repair and construction. Almost immediately after taking office in 2002, Walker sought to change those county statutes, so he could raid the fund. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/5/02, 5/23/03, 5/7/06]
Scott Walker was successful in raiding it and proceeded to raid it every year since to fill the ever gaping holes in his budgets. Milwaukee County numbers show that his total raiding of those transportation funds totals over $109 million!
So we are supposed to believe Scott Walker's rhetoric about raiding transportation funds even though his record as county executive shows him doing the exact opposite? This Walker hypocrisy is shameless enough but what makes it worse is that it is coming from the guy that owns the "worst road in the State of Wisconsin".